Vikhroli mangroves in Mumbai store 6 lakh tonnes of carbon, says study
Mumbai city news: The study found that each year, 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) is being added and stored at the protected reserved forest.Updated: Jul 14, 2017 00:19 IST
One of the largest private mangrove forests in the state, the Vikhroli mangroves, stores six lakh tonnes of carbon, mostly from pollutants that humans release into the atmosphere, found a study done by a team of scientists from Godrej that owns the mangrove forest spread across several hundreds of acres in the eastern suburbs of Mumbai.
The study found that each year, 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) is being added and stored at the protected reserved forest. Mangroves are salt-tolerant plants that protect the coastline from inundation. Mangrove species capture CO2 from the atmosphere and store them as carbon. This process is called carbon sequestration, and it helps control global warming by reducing CO2 levels in the atmosphere, according to climate scientists.
On Wednesday, Godrej & Boyce launched a mobile app on mangroves, making it a first across India and Asia. It was launched by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis. The app covers 24 mangrove and associated species found in Maharashtra and 16 species found in Vikhroli. The app has been made available on Android, iOS, and Windows platforms.
“The key beneficiaries of the app are teachers, students, forest departments, NGOs involved in biodiversity research, conservation, and awareness, mangrove researchers, nature enthusiasts and photographers participating in nature trails,” said a Godrej spokesperson. “The best feature of this app is that it can work offline too.”
The ‘Mangrove’ app users have a choice to identify the species based on leaf shape, flower colour and name of the species. Besides identification feature, the app offers other interesting information such as description of every plant species and its uses, mangrove distribution and ecosystem, plant adaptations, faunal biodiversity in mangroves, current threats and conservation measures, role of stakeholders, glossary of technical terms and information about mangroves in Vikhroli.
- More than 16 mangrove species
- 82 butterfly species
- 208 bird species
- 13 crab species
- 7 prawn species
- 20 fish species
- Mammals like Jackals, wild boars, and mongoose can be spotted at the mangrove ecosystem
A Godrej scientist who documented out the carbon sequestration said that it was an ongoing study and started in 2014. “We wanted to understand how the mangroves are helping the environment. One of the main features of mangrove trees is that they sequester more carbon that many of the terrestrial plants,” he said adding, “We divided the mangrove forest into grids and collected samples of the leaves, barks, root system and sediments. After calculating organic carbon from each of the samples, we found that the ecosystem stores almost six lakh tonnes of carbon since its existence. Additionally, 50,000 tonnes is being captured every year and is helping trap the carbon emissions from the entire Mumbai Metropolitan Region.”
The Vikhroli mangrove forest has a diverse habitat with dense and scarce forests, grasslands, mudflats, water bodies and tidal ponds. “We found 16 true mangrove species and mangrove associates (those mangrove species whose seeds do not germinate from the parent plant). Of these, the grey mangrove (Avicennia marina) is the dominant species and accounts for 90% of the mangrove cover in Vikhroli. Other species include the river mangrove, orange mangrove, mangrove apple, sea holly and many other species but in lesser numbers,” the scientist said.
The private forests came under Godrej’s domain from 1940s onwards. “Over the years, the green cover has increased owing to proper protection of the trees, which is why the biodiversity of the area is also increasing,” he said.
A similar study by the Thane-based BN Bandodkar College of Science found that mangroves along the Thane creek store 2,38,417 tonnes of carbon. To study the carbon content, researchers collected fresh and fallen mangrove leaves from Bhandup and Airoli.
Know more about mangroves
Mangrove ecosystem establishes and grows at the interface of soil and water bodies like sea, creeks, estuaries, bays and lagoons. They are commonly found in inter-tidal areas – area between the high tide and the low tide. Mangrove ecosystem is believed to have evolved around 114 million years back in tropical and subtropical regions.
- The ecosystem inhabits 112 tropical and subtropical countries
- It requires minimum of 24 degrees Celsius temperature for growth
- In Maharashtra, mangroves cover almost 222sqkm of coastline covering 53 creeks and seashores
- The largest mangrove forest in the world is at Sundarbans, West Bengal